Annie’s 10 Tips for Improving
by Annie Fox, M.Ed
Parents of teens have one of the roughest jobs around. The dynamic between you and your son/daughter is changing so quickly that it’s challenging to stay focused on your job description. You knew very well what the job entailed when the kids were younger, but now, it’s not always such a clear call. There’s no single golden rulebook for parenting (though I’ve got lots of great books to recommend), but keeping these 10 tips in mind will go a long way in helping you stay centered. And that’s exactly where you have to be to be an effective parent and role model for your adolescent kids.
- Remember that you are the parent — Your job is to protect your child and prepare him/her to become a fully functioning adult. Being a leader and a compassionate teacher is more important than being your teen’s friend.
- Remain calm — Nothing gets resolved when stress makes it impossible to think clearly. Can’t respond rationally? Then take a break until you can.
- Talk less and listen more — Just like the rest of us, teens want to be respected and heard. Be a "safe" and available person to talk to.
- It’s a balancing act — A key challenge in parenting teens is to remain emotionally connected while granting your kids more privacy and autonomy.
- They’re always watching – Want your teen to be trustworthy, responsible, and compassionate? Make sure you're modeling those values in your own life.
- Make your expectations clear and be consistent with your follow-through — If kids know the consequences ahead of time and they’ve bought into the rules of the house, they're more likely to make healthy choices.
- Catch your teen in the act of doing something right — Praise shows that you noticed their efforts. It also promotes a feeling of competency.
- Be real — Father/mother does NOT always know best. Admit your own confusion and mistakes. Apologize when appropriate. Show your kids that just like them, you too are also “a work in progress.”
- Regularly create time to enjoy being a family — Having regular meals together and relaxing, unplugged from digital technology, is a gift with long-lasting benefits.
- Lighten up! — Humor is a great de-stressor. Remember, no one stays a teen (or the parent of a teen) forever!